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Lo-Fi SES: Hackable 8-bit chiptunes instrument (Canceled) project video thumbnail
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$27,219 pledged of $5,000 goal
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By Assorted Wires
$27,219 pledged of $5,000 goal
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About this project

For future updates go to AssortedWires.com

We have had some fantastic coverage of the project so far! Please keep spreading the word!

 And now back to the story...

Know how to play video games? Like music? You’ll love the Lo-Fi SES (Sound Entertainment System). It's an instrument that makes it easy to rock out as a chiptune artist.

The Lo-Fi SES is all fun with no practice. It may look like a game controller, but it's actually a music controller. You might've never learned to play piano or guitar, but I’ll bet you rocked at more than a few video games. Lo-Fi SES lets you turn those hard fought skills into musical magic.

And, like any good guitar, the Lo-Fi SES has to look as good as it sounds. That's why the Lo-Fi SES itself is a work of art. The fantastic Doctor Octoroc divined the graphics for this instrument and produced the animation in the video.

He also created this awesome song that features the Lo-Fi SES:

Great as a gift

Lo-Fi SES makes a great gift for friends who enjoy music and video games. No hacking experience is required. But, if they like programming and computers, then they can expand their Lo-Fi SES experience even further. It's the perfect platform for audio projects, budding bands, or skilled instrumentalists. 

  Lo-Fi SES music controller 

The controller is the heart of the Lo-Fi SES experience. Just like you are given a few items when you begin any game, the Lo-Fi SES starts you off with a default set of sounds on board. The default sounds are a lo-fi drum set. They're similar to the attack sounds from the video games of your childhood. Like any good portable system, sound output from the Lo-Fi SES comes from a standard audio jack that works with headphones or your stereo.  

Just like the SNES, the Lo-Fi SES has all the buttons you could ever need! Use the ones on the right to trigger the sounds, and the ones on the left to control which track is being played or recored. You can even record multiple tracks and swap them out!

The Lo-Fi SES blinks at you more than F-Zero to let you know what is happening. But, every LED aids you along your musical adventure. The ROYB LEDs let you know what sounds you're playing or which ones are on the looped track. The record LED lets you know when you're recording or playing on top of a track. Best of all, there are tempo LEDs that keep you from ever missing a beat.

Finally, there's the badass battery life. Use 6 AAAs and get all day battery life. 24 hours of continuous play, so you can keep rocking long after your parents have gone to bed.

Cartridges

Upgrade your Lo-Fi SES experience with cartridges to mod your musical journey. And, these cartridges don't need you to ever blow on them to make them work!

Final Sound Adventure

Plug it in, turn the Lo-Fi SES on, and get a different set of sounds. These sounds have more pure tones than the default set. 

USB: A Link to the Hack

If you like to tinker or you're into Arduinos, this is a must-have cartridge. This cartridge connects your Lo-Fi SES to your Mac, Linux, or Windows computer (standard mini USB cable not included). There are infinite possibilities once connected: swap out the sounds with some wavs you designed, tweak the timing of things to match your style, upgrade the software, or make it control your favorite sequencer. 

Smasher Bros.

Drop the bass! This cartridge is like a tiny portable guitar pedal! It uses analog circuitry to allow you to adjust the bass and dirty up the sound by clipping the audio.

More details…

No cartridge required for this entertainment system. You can rock out with just your headphones and the Lo-Fi SES

Fits your hands like a power glove

Fully portable Designed to be used on the go or on stage

 Functionality cheat sheet

 Fully hackable Design your own rumble pack if you want to!

Retro styling

Most musical instruments were disappointing to me. There had to be something that felt more familiar and generated more inspiration. Something that provided new opportunities to make music with friends. One that was designed to be easily manipulated by today’s maker/hacker community. An instrument that was simple enough for anyone to use and as portable as possible. 

It hit me that a video game controller was the ideal form factor. Designing around the Atmega processor and Arduino platform was a must because I wanted this controller to become part of a community. To further that community building, I am committing to open hardware and software to make certain that Lo-Fi SES becomes the lo-fi audio platform. Become part of this community and help me make this platform a reality!

This project has been a labor of love. Every part has been considered and reworked through multiple iterations. Even the way we read button presses is identical to SNES and NES controllers! And, like any good game, you have to go through it a few times to make sure you have explored every room and dungeon. Everything from the cart interface to the audio pipeline has been redesigned at least three times. The buttons were a particular challenge. There are a surprising number of variables to check for when deciding on a button. You need to make sure they are durable enough to last a long time, they aren't too hard or too easy to press, and that they spring back with just the right amount of pop. I tested over 30 buttons to make sure that the ones on the Lo-Fi SES play perfectly. 

After polishing every detail, I feel confident in my product. I am more prepared than ever to make Lo-Fi SES a reality. Let’s complete this last level together!

Stretch goals

I want to reward everyone for telling their friends and making the project a reality. That is why stretch goals exist! I have a few fun ones up my sleeve if we manage to get into some higher ranges. Kickstarter green pcbs, more carts, more sounds, and more software tools are all power-ups that are available if we can make it that far into our journey.

Extreme hackability

The Lo-Fi SES holds an infinite amount of software hacking potential:

  • Replace the sounds with your favorite ones from NES, SNES, and more
  • Change the buttons to work better with your style
  • Configure it as a video game controller using the USB cartridge
  • Do some sophisticated DSP using Open Music Lab's code (http://wiki.openmusiclabs.com/wiki/StompShieldaudio
  • Anything you can do with an Arduino you can do with this controller but in lo-fi style!

Hacking with hardware is enabled with cartridges and is an entirely different game:

  • 3D print a D-pad cover
  • Cartridge full of even more buttons
  • A crazy seizure-inducing LED interface
  • Any analog sound manipulation you come up with
  • Your own custom rumble pack cartridge!

After the Kickstarter completes

I have manufactured and shipped many products before, both software and hardware. As soon as the Kickstarter ends, I will work as fast as possible to finalize hardware/software and simultaneously order the components. I will then secure a contract with a local contract manufacturer to assemble the boards. After that, I will work with a local logistics and shipping company to ensure that all the packages get where they need to be as quickly as possible.

October: Finalizing prototypes. Polish firmware to final shipping state.

November: Procurement of components, PCBs, and packaging.

December: Assembly starts. Shipping starts mid-month.

Risks and challenges

Having made products before, I know that there are always risks. That being said, for this project they are fairly minor. It has been designed with quick production in mind.

Suppliers/fulfillment:

One of the biggest problems would be if a critical electrical component’s stock at a component distributor was significantly reduced before I was able to make my purchases; that could set back production substantially. Likely the early birds would be unaffected, but the other backers’ delivery date could be pushed back by 6+ weeks.

Luckily, manufacturing is set to happen entirely in the US. That should help mitigate any one leg of the process from being delayed for multiple weeks and generally help keep timelines tight.

Other things include someone getting swamped in the production/shipping pipeline due to the holidays. If an assembler receives a huge job from a long-time customer or the logistics shop becomes overwhelmed, my timeline will obviously get pushed back.

Polish/perfection:

There will have to be a final pass on the electronics and software design and there could be a bit more churn than expected if some major unexpected error pops up.


Every supporter we get moves us a few bits closer to our goal. It gives us more purchasing leverage and allows us to make a better product. Please help us by pledging for our product and sharing the project with all of your friends. Let’s make a better sounding future together!

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    Supportive power up: Buy me a power up in the form of a cup of coffee. The extra energy will help me to build as many features as I can into the Lo-Fi SES. Also, you will get my unending gratitude!

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Solo (Early): The Lo-Fi SES controller. We get it to you as quickly as we can.

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    Pledge $65 or more About $65

    Solo: The Lo-Fi SES controller.

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    Pledge $80 or more About $80

    Solo + Cart (Early) : The Lo-Fi SES controller and the Final Sound Adventure cartridge. We get it to you as quickly as we can.

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    Pledge $80 or more About $80

    Solo + Cart (Early) : The Lo-Fi SES controller and the USB: a Link to the Hack cartridge. We get it to you as quickly as we can.

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    Reward no longer available 25 backers
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $80 or more About $80

    Solo + Cart (Early) : The Lo-Fi SES controller and the Smasher Bros cartridge. We get it to you as quickly as we can.

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    Limited 7 backers
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    Pledge $90 or more About $90

    Solo + Cart: The Lo-Fi SES controller and the Final Sound Adventure cartridge.

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    Pledge $90 or more About $90

    Solo + Cart: The Lo-Fi SES controller and the USB: a Link to the Hack cartridge.

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    Pledge $90 or more About $90

    Solo + Cart: The Lo-Fi SES controller and the Smasher Bros cartridge.

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    Pledge $110 or more About $110

    Solo + Cart Trilogy (Early): The Lo-Fi SES controller and all the three types of cartridges. We get it to you as quickly as we can.

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    Reward no longer available 50 backers
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    Pledge $110 or more About $110

    Solo + Cart Trilogy (Early) INTERNATIONAL: NEW REWARD The Lo-Fi SES controller and all the three types of cartridges. We get it to you as quickly as we can.

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    Reward no longer available 25 backers
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    Pledge $120 or more About $120

    Solo + Cart Trilogy: The Lo-Fi SES controller and all the three types of cartridges.

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    Duet + Cart Trilogy (Early): Two Lo-Fi SES controllers and two sets of all the three types of cartridges. We get it to you as quickly as we can.

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    Pledge $220 or more About $220

    Duet + Cart Trilogy: Two Lo-Fi SES controllers and two sets of all the three types of cartridges.

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  15. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Duet + Cart Trilogy (Early and Signed): Two Lo-Fi SES controllers and two sets of all the three types of cartridges. We get it to you as quickly as we can AND I will personally sign it!

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  16. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Full Band Kit (5 x Solo+Cart Trilogy): Five Lo-Fi SES controllers and five sets of all the three types of cartridges. We get it to you as quickly as we can.

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Funding period

- (44 days)